Parks and playgrounds may have a variety of ground coverings, including concrete, grass, mulch, stones, and rubberized surfaces. If play structures and equipment are made for smaller children, it’s common practice to install soft surfaces under and around these areas. Failure to invest in these surfaces can lead to serious playground injuries, including skull fractures, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, or even wrongful death.
How Playground Surfaces Cause Injuries to Children
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 79% of playground injuries in preschool and elementary children nationwide involve falls. While it may not be possible to prevent all playground falls, owners have a duty to ensure as soft a landing as possible. Since the surface on which the child lands can greatly affect the severity of their injuries, it is vital that operators of play areas follow CPSC surfacing guidelines.
Common examples of negligence involving playground surfaces include:
- Inadequate fall zones. Fall zones are softened areas around equipment where a child could fall, and requirements vary for each piece of equipment. Fall zones under slides should extend outward at the height of the slide plus four feet. Under swings, the surface must extend twice the height, both in front of and behind the swing. Appropriate surfacing may include soft materials like sand, wood chips, or rubber mats, but concrete should never be used in a fall zone.
- Improper fall protective surfaces. Many manufacturers offer playground surface coverings designed to absorb impact and reduce injuries. In order to be effective, rubber matting should be at least 12 inches deep, have a smooth and even texture, and extend at least six feet from the equipment in all directions. If the surface material of a play area is worn, pockmarked, or jagged, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Objects or debris in fall zones. An otherwise soft fall may be interrupted by debris on the play surface, such as rocks or tree limbs. Some rubber materials may accidentally be installed over stumps or concrete foundations, nullifying any fall protection they are meant to provide.
If your child was injured on a playground in Tennessee, we can determine who is at fault and what your family may be owed under the law. Our lawyers provide injury clients with a free initial consultation and represent their interests on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.